Tuesday 25 June 2019

Seatown squad's 'Swede' dreams realised

Soccer Gothia Cup

A tired group of 18 players and three adults arrived safely back in Dundalk last week after a memorable seven days at the Gothia Cup in Sweden.

The Seatown Under-16 team - made up of players from the Dundalk Schoolboys League - made it all the way to the B final where they were beaten 1-0 after playing nine games in five days.

This was the 10th occasion that Seatown/Dundalk Schoolboys League teams have participated in this prestigious tournament in Sweden where players representing 1,731 teams from 80 countries came together for a feast of football and fun.

Sweden has been experiencing a heatwave since early June, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees most days, and that made conditions very difficult for the players.

Nevertheless, Seatown played a total of nine games (25 minutes each way), of which they won six, lost two and drew one, with five clean sheets, 18 goals scored and just eight conceded. Their Player of the Tournament was Quay Celtic's Thomas Daly who was the squad's top scorer with seven.

The squad played just two friendlies in Dundalk before the tournament and had only around 10 training sessions over the past few months due to commitments to their clubs and exams, and they even struggled to get a venue to hold their training sessions.

There has always been amazing youths/schoolboy's talent in Dundalk and the surrounding area, but they don't always get the proper opportunities. Nevertheless, this group gelled on and off the field through sheer determination and desire to show people they can perform if given a chance. They played quality football and scored some amazing goals and will have gained lifetime memories from their experiences throughout the week.

Seatown's first game on the Monday after arrival ended in a heavy 4-1 defeat to local side Utbynas SK, but they secured a hard-earned point on the Tuesday with a 0-0 draw against Vake-WIT from Tbilisi in Georgia.

The Dundalk boys got their first win the following morning beating Skijebo SK from Stockholm 5-1 with goals from Darragh Malone, Thomas Daly (2), Terence Kelly and Mark Agnew which left them third in their group, therefore qualifying for the Gothia B cup section of 92 teams.

All games were now knockout, but Seatown came through with flying colours in their next game on the Thursday morning, beating Swedish side IFK Kumla 4-0.

Goalkeeper Eddie Maguire produced an important save early in the game, but Mark Agnew scored before half-time, Terence Kelly's 35-yard piledriver put Dundalk 2-0 up and Thomas Daly and Ryan McDonnell added two more to complete the victory.

Seatown's next game was five hours later against a top Mexican side in CF Internacional, but a delightful passing move involving Brian Brady and Adam McMahon set up Kyle Connolly who fired home 15 minutes from time to stun the Mexicans - 1-0 at the final whistle.

The Dundalk boys then faced three games on the Friday in order to qualify for the final on Saturday morning, so preparation was now vital, with rest, recovery and diet the buzzwords.

Seatown were determined to stay in the tournament and they responded like professionals to the task. The Friday endurance test started with a 1-0 win over Mexico Elite FC, with the goal from Travis Crowley, and just three hours later Seatown produced another stunning performance in the quarter-final to beat Sarvagens FF from Norway 4-2 with goals from Thomas Daly, Brian Brady, Travis Crowley and Mark Agnew.

The semi-final took place that Friday evening against Eneybergs-IF from Sweden and the Dundalk boys somehow found the energy to play the game at a high tempo and never allowed the Swedes to gain a foothold on the game. Two terrific goals from Thomas Daly and one by Mark Agnew earned Seatown the win.

The final was played at the SKF arena in Gothenburg city on Saturday at 10.30am against Stryn TIL from Norway.

The players gave everything they had left in the tank, but it was a bridge too far and they suffered a 1-0 defeat.

Manager Brian McGuinness and his assistants Ciaran Caldwell and Niall McGuinness couldn't praise the players enough with Brian declaring: 'They were all magnificent throughout the entire week, both on and off the pitch. We'd also like thanks to Malone Windows Dunleer for sponsoring a set of jerseys, Steve McMullen, Coffee Time Park Street for sponsoring a set of polo shirts and to Tiernan Mallon of Mallon Property, Dublin Street and Chris Malone of Malone Insurances, Dublin Street for sponsoring the bus to and from Dublin Airport.'

Seatown: Adam McMahon (Dromin Juveniles), Aaron Crawford (St Dominics), Brian Brady (St Dominics), Darragh Malone (Dromin Juveniles), Dylan Cahill (Quay Cel), Edward Maguire (Glenmuir Utd), Graham Stevens (Quay Cel U-17), Jack Conlon (St Dominics), Kyle Connolly (Glenmuir Utd), Marcos Francesco (Glenmuir Utd), Mark Agnew (Glenmuir Utd), Michael Hanlon (Bellurgan Utd), Oisin McCumiskey (Quay Cel), Ryan McDonnell (Quay Cel), Sean Maguire (Rock Cel), Terence Kelly (Quay Cel U-17), Thomas Daly (Quay Cel), Travis Crowley (Bay Utd). Manager: Brian McGuinness; Assistant managers: Ciaran Caldwell, Niall McGuinness.

• Seatown Under-16s would like to say a big thank-you to Malone Windows (Dunleer) for sponsoring a set of jerseys, Steve McMullen (Coffee Time Park Street) for sponsoring a set of polo shirts and Tiernan Mallon of Mallon Property and Chris Malone of Malone Insurances (both Dublin Street) for sponsoring the bus to and from Dublin Airport.

The Argus